GREENSBORO, N.C. — Nearly 20 years ago, a group of mothers in Guilford County recognized the opportunities they had to spend time with their children weren’t afforded to most.
“Our whole neighborhood would get together and we would play with our kids, do fun stuff and we realized that support was very, very valuable,” Patti Learman said.
As they saw a need for new parents to have similar experiences, they discovered Parents as Teachers and the Guilford County affiliate of the organization was born.
“There was a lot of ups and downs along the way, but we’re here,” Learman said.
Parents as Teachers Guilford County was formed on the idea that parents are their child’s first and best teachers.
“Childhood development, and how do you talk to a young child, how do you help them grow,” said Rachel Luckhardt, Parents as Teachers Guilford County treasurer.
Today, as a nonprofit with seven employees, they address what they call a “universal need” across the county.
“It didn’t matter how much income you had, what your race was, how many children you had, whether you were a single mom,” Learman said.
Using personal visits, group connections, developmental screenings and their resource network, the organization focuses on parent-child interaction and child development-centered parenting.
“We try to help parents understand the why of behaviors, because then the parent’s response is more appropriate,” Learman said.
By providing information and support, they set a goal of building a parent’s knowledge and skills to make sure their children are prepared for kindergarten.
“It’s kind of leveling the playing field, because children that start behind in kindergarten, they stay behind,” Learman added. “It’s not just learning your ABCs and 123s, how to hold a pencil and do all that. It is the big picture of kindergarten readiness.”
Learman says Parents as Teachers Guilford County serves at least 50 families a year.
“Is your child ready to take instructions from another adult? Can they regulate their emotions enough to sit in a classroom with all kinds of sensory things coming at them?” she said.
As with many organizations such as this, their biggest challenge is funding. For information on how to get involved, click here.